Before There Was English, French, Spanish, There Was . . . PIE!
Long before there was English, German, Hindi, Spanish, French and the myriad of other languages that we speak today, there was Proto-Indo European or what linguists affectionately call PIE. Believed to have been spoken sometime between 4,500 and 3,700 B.C. by our ancestors in Europe and Asia, it is the most researched of all ancient languages simply, because it is believed to be the root of many of the modern ones.
Given that there is no written or verbal record of PIE, experts have spent years trying to reconstruct it by finding common words amongst languages like Latin, Greek and Sanskrit. While a few brave ones have attempted at writing a short parable in the ancient language, no one has ever attempted to speak it aloud, let alone record it, until now.
Earlier this week, University of Kentucky linguistics expert Dr. Andrew Byrd released the first recording of a parable of sheep and horses as it may have sounded in PIE. It was first penned in the ancient language in 1868 by German linguist Dr. August Schleicher as an attempt to recreate the vocabulary. Since then, many linguists have re-written it in their own version of PIE. The one that Dr. Byrd has attempted to pronounce is the rendition written by his mentor, UCLA linguist, Dr. H. Creig Melchart.
Of course, given that there is no definitive version of this language, whether this was how our ancestors communicated is just an educated guess. But since that is something we will never be able to confirm, we will just have to take the expert's word for it. However despite the popularity of his recording, Dr. Byrd says he will never attempt to make another one because he would first have to write something in PIE, which judging from the rather convoluted looking alphabets is not an easy task.
And in case you are wondering what Dr. Byrd is saying, here is the original parable that Dr. Schleicher translated in PIE.
English does a lot easier now doesn't it?
Resources: catholic.org, wikipedia.org, dailymail.co.uk, huffingtonpost.com
Critical Thinking Challenge
What would our world be like if we all still spoke the same language?